Insider deals, super-sized checks to influential Democrats, and rumors of cooked numbers!
All cast a shadow over the 2006 Democratic State Nominating Convention that otherwise might have claimed itself an unalloyed success. I am referring of course, to the various ploys used by Chris Gabrieli to assure himself a place on the Primary election ballot in September. The message sent is that the Democratic State Party is doing business as usual, which means that money talks and lots of money speaks loudly enough to gain one a place on the ballot. No need to follow the rules; if youâve got enough dough, youâve got enough clout to buy your way in. I mentioned this to one of Gabrieliâs supporters on the convention floorâa very young man who replied, âBut everything he did is legal!â Apparently, so long as what is done is at least technically legal, there is no problem if it is also unethical!
This was my first nominating convention and I was a Deval Patrick delegate. While I was elated at the Conventionâs endorsement of Deval, who garnered 58% of the vote, the machinations of the Gabrieli campaign in league with Party insiders, left me angry, disheartened, and discouraged.
House Speaker Sal DiMasiâs remark to the media, âIf I helped put Gabrieli on the ballot, thatâs good. Everybody should be on the ballot because this party is about inclusion.â is completely off base. âEverybodyâ in fact, should NOT be on the ballot. Candidates who follow the spirit, and not just the letter, of the Party rules and qualify on that basis should be on the ballot. Candidates who get into the race early enough to be vetted by the public belong on the ballot. Candidates who put themselves on the line at the Democratic caucuses and earn support from a sufficient number of delegates should be on the ballot. However, individuals who bypass public vetting, dis the caucuses, and spend millions of their own money to buy their way into the process, do not belong on the ballot. Of course I know that politics is all about cutting deals. But the actions of Mr. DiMasi, and other Party insiders make a travesty of the democratic process.
The fact that it was done to undercut Deval Patrickâs success because he is an outsider, helps explain why it is so difficult today to convince people that their vote does indeed make a difference, never mind engaging them in the process itself.
I am also disheartened by the behavior of those delegates who chose to support Gabrieli A close look at his campaign should have raised some questions. Why did he enter the race so lateânotably after being dropped by Reilly as his choice for Lt. Gov? Why hasnât he been heard from in the four years since he lost the election for Lt. Gov? Is it acceptable for potential candidates for Democratic office to avoid the Democratic caucuses? Is buying access a desirable democratic value? If these delegates were not aware, they should have been. It appears they might not have understood, or cared about the ethical issues involved. I donât believe there was any malevolent intent on their part. Just possibly ignorance and a willingness to be seduced by the big bucks. Perhaps that is what should worry us most if we are concerned about the future of real democracy.
Deval Patrick delegate
Alderman at Large, Newton; firstname.lastname@example.org